When looking for cleaning chemicals, the first place that most people turn to is the local supermarket.
Whether it's oven cleaners, kitchen cleaners or bathroom cleaners, there is a bewildering array of products available, all with marketing claims about why their product is the best.
Each of these products, however, is nothing more than a cleaning chemical with fragrance, colour and water added, and put in pretty packaging.
For this reason, a good option is to bypass the supermarkets and go straight to the hardware store, where most of these chemicals are available in a concentrated form that represents far greater value for money than products found on supermarket shelves.
In particular, there are about half a dozen chemicals that you can add to your kitchen cabinet that will enable you to deal with most domestic cleaning issues.
One of the most useful is caustic soda (sodium hydroxide). It can be used anywhere that oil or fat is the issue, whether it's cooking oil, oven grease, animal fat from our skin or automotive oil.
Get yourself a cheap trigger sprayer, make the caustic soda up at about 10 per cent (100g per litre) and you have a versatile cleaning weapon.
As a general-purpose, hard- surface cleaner it works a treat. Spray it on to the surface, allow a couple of minutes for it to react, then wipe up with a damp cloth.
Is your oven top splattered with oil from cooking? Spray it on, allow to react, then wipe off. Caustic soda can even be used inside the oven with exactly the same effect, although it may not work quite as well on the sides and roof as a commercial oven cleaner would, as these often produce a foam that promotes adherence to vertical surfaces.
The other useful areas for caustic soda are greasy marks around light switches, shirt-collar grime and grime on leather or vinyl armrests, either in your car or on furniture. In each case, spray the solution on, wait a few minutes, then wipe off - you'll be amazed at how well it works.
For barbecues and areas where cooking oil may have splashed, for saucepans, or for oily driveways, caustic soda has no equal. Sprinkle it on generously, then wet it down with a fine mist of water - just enough to get it wet. With a stiff brush (or broom or scourer) work it into the surface for five or 10 minutes, then simply hose it off.
Make sure you wear safety glasses when using caustic soda pellets - you don't want to get it in your eye.